Ribbon-cutting held for PCC plant

ESCANABA – Gov. Rick Snyder was at the NewPage paper mill in Escanaba Thursday to help cut the ribbon on a new plant that represents a decade of collaboration between NewPage and industrial mineral producer Omya.

The plant – which is owned by Omya but located on the NewPage mill’s campus – takes waste carbon dioxide from the paper production process that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and combines it with lime mined in Gulliver, Mich. The result is precipitated calcium carbonate.

“This process is taking a waste material and recovering it and turning it into something useful that we use right in our operation. We never have to leave the site,” said Todd Schmidt, environmental manager for NewPage.

Precipitated calcium carbonate – PCC for short – is used in papers as both an optical whitener and a filler that adds opacity to the finished product.

“There’s so many people to thank for this project. It’s a long, long list, but the folks at NewPage and our team at Omya worked very, very well together,” said Tony Colak, CEO for Omya Region Americas. “We’re very happy with the results and we look forward to this opportunity to work with NewPage for many, many years to come.”

Roughly a year ago Omya broke ground on the PCC plant, but bringing the plant to Escanaba took a decade of collaboration. Both companies viewed the collaborative efforts as a positive experience.

“One thing that I think they have in common with us is our focus is on how do we service our customers better,” said NewPage CEO George Martin. “Over the years they’ve come through for NewPage.”

The Omya plant creates seven jobs in the community, but it was noted the plant will support other jobs in both the paper-making process locally and the lime-mining process in other parts of the U.P.

Gov. Snyder lauded the plant’s creation as an example of Michigan’s dedication to creating products with value.

“What I describe it as is ‘how can you take raw material and through value added processing make something even more valuable out of it?’ And that’s something that makes Michigan – that’s really important to our history and for our future. Whether it’s manufactured, grown or created here we’re very proud of that,” he said.

In addition to joining in with members of the Omya and NewPage teams in cutting the opening ribbon, the Governor was honored by the Michigan Forest Products Council with the annual Tuebor Award.

The award recognizes significant accomplishments in business and natural resource policy. Specifically the MFPC cited his efforts to create jobs with a bipartisan effort on manufacturing, advocate for competitive tax reform, hold agricultural and forest summits, expand forest conservation and stewardship, and encourage active forest management and responsible environmental regulation.